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State Of The Tourism Industry

Open letter from the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  May 11, 2010

Here we share a letter that was sent to the members of the target="_blank">Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association from its chairman, Louis D’Offay:

This issue of our industry's e-News is the final one before the annual general meeting of our association. I start by taking this opportunity to thank everyone for their support for our industry's board during their year of office. Our united effort has paid dividends and today we are, not only the respected body representing the industry, but we are becoming the government's partner in the continued consolidation of our industry.

It is that new-found cooperation and understanding between the government as the facilitator, and the private sector as the economy's motor, that will make the real difference for our industry and in so doing for Seychelles.

Together we must now rally our individual efforts for our common good. We have, as an industry, managed to hold our visitor arrival numbers, but we now need to be united in our drive to better our yield. Many ideas are being floated, but this will need to be a united drive. Our "one island, one hotel partners" serviced by Air Seychelles are complaining about the recent increases in the airline's charter rates to connect these islands to Mahe. These islands are an integral part of our country's tourism infrastructure and as your association's representatives, we have taken the matter up with the minister of finance. Air Seychelles and its board of directors are looking at themselves as a commercial entity, and they decide their own path for the future, but Seychelles also needs to protect its main industry and enable that industry to develop and prosper. Today, it has become evident that the survival of the national airline and the consolidation of different other commercial entities will need to be looked at together. If the time has arrived for opening the airspace for the connecting of our islands, then so be it, and we need to be brave enough to do so. This will encourage local businesses to get together to open a second domestic airline, and as a result, both the Seychellois and our tourism industry will benefit.

The drive for us to open new tourism markets was seen as necessary when the "European ash crisis" closed all the European airports. La Reunion, India, China, South Korea, East & South Africa are all markets we have, as an industry, been working hard to open and to develop further, and this with the support of the government. The week-on-week statistical figures have shown that our country's arrival numbers have held during the week's disruption caused by the "Ash Crisis," because we had arrivals from other countries outside of Europe. Our strategy as an industry is working, and it is such a broad view of our industry that will make the real difference for our country. This is why we also need to open up to the world with more air access from or to areas that Air Seychelles is not flying.

The Seychelles Tourism Industry is disappointed that the SCAA have decided to block Emirates Airlines from introducing their 7th flight to Seychelles, because that latest flight would clash with the arrival time of an Air Seychelles flight from Mauritius. Can our country really afford to miss the opportunity of being advertised with daily landings by Emirates at 7:00 am, and this flying in from anywhere in the world? Yes, Air Seychelles was using that slot before, but what is in the interest of the country as a whole, what is in the interest of the tourism industry as a whole, and what will bring in more benefits to the Seychellois as a whole?

Seychelles may now not have the daily Emirates Airline landing in Seychelles, because we want them to land in the afternoon on that one day, and in so doing force our visitors (tourists coming to holiday in Seychelles) to sit in Dubai airport for some five hours while in transit. We appeal to Mr. Gilbert Faure of the SCAA, and to Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne, the chairman of both the SCAA and of the STB to look beyond the file on our desk and to look at the economy of the country. Let us urgently review that decision that will seriously hamper our country's new-found tourism drive. The decision is yours and the effects will also be from your hands... because we will not be able to ask why other destinations are zooming ahead while we are stuck with our 150,000 arrival numbers!!!

I am ending this message by encouraging every tourism and hospitality industry member to make a special effort to be present at our AGM in May. Come and listen to where we are and what is still outstanding from our "to do list."
Much has been achieved over the past year, however, there is still more to be done; our demand for the industry to be represented on key board, i.e., Planning Authority, Praslin & La Digue Development Boards, the Management Boards of our USPs - SIF for Vallee de Mai & Aldabra, Botanical Gardens, and Marine National Parks is still outstanding. Our country is too small to have such key bodies operate with no input from the industry that remains the pillar of the Seychelles economy. It is our hope that we will succeed this year in convincing government such requests are for the good of Seychelles.

Thank you to President James Michel and to his government for their trust in our industry and in our association, thank you to all our industry's members for their continued support and friendship, thank you to all the SHTA board members for your loyalty and support, thank you to the tourism industry at large for the spirit of togetherness that is so apparent and which is so encouraging.

Open letter from the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association
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